Workers’ Compensation Implications for a Work from Home Model
We saw during March 2020 the great migration for businesses to a mainly, and at times exclusively, work from home model. While businesses have re-opened their offices to their employees, data from the Pew Research Center shows that many Americans are still working from home and would want to continue to work from home even after the Coronavirus outbreak ends.
For businesses, there are benefits to having a work from home model from employees. It can be cost-effective in reducing overhead with less need for office space and lower energy costs. However, there are also risks employers should consider when allowing employees to work from home.
Workers’ Compensation Considerations
From a workers’ compensation perspective, for a work from home injury to be compensable, Plaintiff must prove that an accident occurred which arose out of and in the course and scope of employment.
- Accident: An unlooked-for, untoward event. An interruption of the normal work routine.
- Arising out of employment: The accident must have a causal connection to the employment.
- In the course of employment: The injury must occur:
- during the period of employment,
- at a place where the employee’s duties are calculated to take them, and
- under circumstances where the employee is engaged an authorized activity that is calculated to further (directly or indirectly) the employer’s business.
When an injury occurs at home, it is imperative to collect as much information as possible about the event. Knowing specific details of the injury, like the location of the injury, the layout of the workspace, the time the injury occurred and normal work from home routine are essential in determining the compensability of a claim.
A few considerations for employers who intend to utilize a work from home model, wholly or partially, should include:
- drafting revised job descriptions for employees,
- providing a technology stipend,
- setting specific hours for employees who telework, and
- specifying work from home terms and parameters within an employee handbook and/or a signed telecommuting agreement.
Because each and every claim is fact-specific, feel free to contact one of our workers’ compensation attorneys with any questions.